MbirdConfFinal1

A couple of very cool new details to report: First and most importantly, we can confirm that our co-headliner this year will be none other than award-winning poet and best-selling memoirist Mary Karr! This is a huge honor for Mockingbird, and we could not be more excited. If somehow you’ve missed the many posts we’ve done on Mary’s work, you can catch up here. Her official bio contains more than its fair share of colorful soundbites, the bit about 2009′s Lit (mandatory reading for those coming to the conference) being a particular highlight:

Lit chronicles Karr’s brazen battle into adulthood, taking readers on a journey into awe while tracing her search for the solid family she never had. On the way, she falls into the thrall of Jack Daniels, the blue-blood poet she marries, their child, and most bizarrely of all – Baby Jesus. Never have alcoholism and depression been rendered with more hilarity; no other modern memoir has so vividly brought to life the struggle with faith. As Francine Prose wrote in the New York Review of Books: “Contemporary Believers and nonbelievers have long been drawn to confessions, like Saint Augustine’s, that read like dispatches from the knock-down drag-out encounter between God and the stubborn sinner. Lit . . . is one of those.”

And just to whet your appetite even more, how could we not reproduce that incredible quotation from the unbelievably great essay “Facing Altars”, included in her poetry collection, Sinners Welcome:

mkarrPeople usually (always?) come to church as they do to prayer and poetry—through suffering and terror. Need and fear…

The faithless contenders for prayer’s relief who sometimes ask me for help praying (still a comic notion) often say it seems hypocritical to turn to God only now during whatever crisis is forcing them toward it – a kid with leukemia, say, husband lost in the World Trade Center. But no one I know has ever turned to God any other way. As the old adage says, there are no atheists in foxholes. Maybe saints turn to God from innate righteousness. The rest of us tend to show up holding out a tin cup. The church I attended said it best on the banner stretched across it’s front: SINNERS WELCOME.

Secondly, we can announce the full slate of mini-talks, breakout sessions and other programming. Our best line-up yet? Could be:

  • What Does Salvation Feel Like? Protestantism and the Problem of Emotion – Simeon Zahl
  • Kierkegaard, Existentialism and Young Adult Anxiety – William McDavid
  • Big Foot Called My Unicorn an Antinomian: The Double Bind of the Law – Jady Koch
  • Death and Life in the Artist’s Studio – Dan Siedell
  • Thou Art My Beloved Child: Parenthood for Prodigals – Matthew Schneider
  • T.S. Eliot’s Parables of Self-Righteousness and Resurrection – Todd Brewer
  • It Came From the (Church) Basement: Addiction, Grace and Alcoholics Anonymous – John Zahl
  • Walter White vs. Raylan Givens: The Two Hats of American Law – Ethan Richardson
  • Baby, You Can Drive My Karr: Conversion & the Poetry of Mary Karr – Brad Davis
  • Crunch Time: What We Can Learn From Athletes About Dealing with Stress – Nick Lannon
  • The Prisoner, the Blind, and The Bound: Pastoring People Like You (and Me) – Jacob Smith
  • Hear Me: A Photography Exhibit – Kate Norris
  • The Romance of Grace – Jim McNeeley
  • I’ve Just Gotta Get A Message To Me – David Zahl

Pre-Register Today!

To give you more of a sense for Mary, check out the GBV-soundtracked promo for Lit here.